A Művelődési és Közoktatási Minisztérium, az Ábécéskönyv Kiadó Kft. és a Profi-Média Kft.
által kiírt pályázat egyik díjnyertes alkotása.

Hogyan tanítok angol nyelvet a számítógép segítségével az általános iskolában?
How I teach English with the help of the computer in the primary school

Tanulmány a Művelôdési és Közoktatási Minisztérium Sulinet Programiroda, az Ábécéskönyv Kiadó Kft. és a Profi-Média Kft. által hirdetett pályázatra

Jelige: CITY

This essay shows how I used PICDIC (Picture Dictionary) CD-ROM during some English lessons in the sixth form of a village primary school. Following the description of the CD-ROM and that of the students you can find some of my ideas about using this multimedia programme and about my experience .

PICDIC (Picture Dictionary) - a review

This CD-ROM was compiled by Borbála Szendrő, the author of the book I love words . She is a professor of the English Department at the University of Economics,Budapest. The CD-ROM was published by Profi-Média Kft., Baja. PICDIC has 83 topics with 5000 words and 200 colour pictures. The topics are taken from everyday life (e.g.: the house,the city, animals, sports, numbers, etc.). After choosing a topic you can see a picture. If you click on an object you can read what it is and hear how it is pronounced. You can choose between Hungarian and English titles, and the topics can be read in alphabetical order as well. If you need a word, type it either in English or in Hungarian and you can easily find its meaning with pictures and words or phrases connected with it. So you can read several occurrences of the word. In Setup button we can choose English and/or Hungarian words, phrases to be written, British and/or American voices, pronouncing them (the phonetic transcriptions). This programme also indicates the irregular plural forms of the nouns. You can write your own remarks to the topics and the programme will save them if you want.

There are three entertaining educational games, which can be played alone or in pairs. In Drag and Drop there is a list of scrambled words next to a picture. The student has to drag the sign near the object in the picture and drop it on the correct word on the list. If he/she matches the picture with the right word the computer pronounces it, if he/she misses it a voice says: wrong. In Puzzle the computer asks the English or Hungarian meanings of the words. If the student type in the correct answers he/she can see the picture. In Where is it? the student has to click on the object pronounced by the computer. If he/she misses it, after the third attempt the computer writes the word on the screen, and after the forth one it shows the correct answer. These games gradually become more difficult. Drag and Drop is the easiest game and Where is it? is the most difficult one.

Students can compete in these games, the computer writes the results of the first ten competitors.

If the teacher wants to use the pictures during the lessons he/she can copy them on the clipboard and print them.

I think this multimedia version of the dictionary improves students’ written and spoken English in an entertaining way.

The Background

Our school is a primary school in a village near Budapest. My students with whom I used PICDIC are in the sixth form. There are 18 students in my group, they come from two forms. They started to learn English in the forth form (at the age of nine). They had two lessons a week in the forth form and three lessons a week in the fifth and sixth forms. The level of their knowledge is quite poor. There are two groups of students learning English in the sixth form based on the level of their knowledge. My group is the weaker one, only four or five students are relatively good at English. Most of my students have moderate abilities and there are two or three students below the average. Their parents usually cannot help them, and they do not have private teachers either. But there are five students who have computers at home - one of them has access to Internet too -, and I find that they know more words or they often ask me about the meanings of English words that we have not learnt together. As far as I am concerned I have taught English for twelve years.

In our school there is a computer lab with 15 Pentium 100 computers. We have been able to use CD-ROMs only since May of 1998. Our students have computer lessons once a week from the fifth form. So all my students can use a computer, half of them have already played CD-ROM games, but they have never used any language learning multimedia programmes.

My students have learnt English from Chatterbox (Oxford University Press). In the sixth form we use Chatterbox 3. I decided to complete the book with PICDIC because I wanted to make the lessons more interesting and I hoped that my students’ knowledge of English would improve. My other aim was to arouse the children’s interest in the language learning multimedia programmes to use them at home on their own.

PICDIC is a very useful supplementary material, because the teacher can choose any topic to practise or complete the lessons of the book. We do not need to study everything from the beginning to the end of the CD-ROM, we can pick out any topic and picture which is the most appropriate for the syllabus. It is impossible to use the computer lab regularly in our school, because there are a lot of groups for one laboratory, and the teacher of the computer science keeps an eye on it all the time. English groups only sometimes can be let in. I think the situation is the same in most schools in Hungary nowadays. PICDIC is the right multimedia programme for using on occasion.

Lesson Plans

Language focus: City words
Revision: Prepositions Asking about location: Where ...?

Lesson One

( In the classroom. Means used during the lesson: Chatterbox - Pupil’s Book 3, Activity Book 3, Teacher’s Book 3, a cassette recorder, a board )

Warm up/ Revision
The teacher asks questions: ‘Where do you live? Is there a bank in our village? What is the capital city of Hungary? What can you see in the streets?’ etc. Students know the answers, because they have learnt about them before. 5 minutes

Students open their books on page 37. ( In the city ) Teacher: ‘Point to the school / police station / café,’ etc. Students point to the appropriate picture and repeat the word. The teacher writes the new words on the board ( railway station, apartment block, hospital, playground, clothes shop ) and the students copy them. 10 minutes

Practice Students
revise prepositions: between, on, under, near, behind, in front of. Teacher: ‘Look at the things in the classroom. Where is Peter’s bag? Where is the dustbin? Where is your book?’ Students: ‘It is under the table. It is behind the door. It is on the desk.’ 3 minutes

Listening task
Students listen to the cassette and point to the right picture. On the tapescript there are short dialogues:
Ken: Where is the police station?
Kate: It is between the railway station and the café.
Ken: Where is the factory?
Kate: It is behind the school. etc.
After this the teacher asks the same questions and the students answer. Then they ask each other. 10 minutes

Pair work:
Students ask and answer questions about the picture. The teacher goes around the class and helps them. 5 minutes
Students in pairs draw a city plan, including all the places in the picture of the book. Then they combine with other pairs to ask and answer questions about their plans. 7 minutes

Reading and writing
Students do the exercise in the activity book ( page 37, activity 1 ). There is a town plan with buildings represented by symbols. Students look at the plan and write answers to the questions. Students write the first two answers on the board, then they have to finish the activity on their own. For some of the questions there is more than one correct answer. When they are ready they read the sentences aloud and the teacher checks them. 5 minutes Homework Students have to draw the plan of their village and write five sentences about it. They have to learn the new words.

Lesson Two

(In the computer room. Means used during the lesson: PICDIC CD-ROM, a board)

Warm-up / Revision
Students show their plans drawn at home about the village to each other and they ask and answer about them in pairs. Teacher: ‘I can see a city. I can see something beginning with c.. / r.. / s..’ etc. Students say words of the city buildings beginning with these letters. 5 minutes

After the teacher’s short introduction of PICDIC students switch on the computers and they open the topic In the city . Students have a few minutes to look at the picture and click on the objects in it. They repeat the words, and they have to find words which are already known to them. Teacher: ‘Tell me the words you have known before!’ Students: ‘Bank, café, bus, apartment.’ 5 minutes

Practice Teacher:
‘Look at the buildings in the picture, click on them and repeat the words.’ While the students are doing this the teacher writes some words on the board. Students have to find the meanings of these words with the help of the programme.

On the board: ........................................ - toronyház
  department store - .........................................................
  ........................................ - lakótelep
  flat, apartment - ........................................................

Students write the correct words next to them ( tower block, áruház, housing estate, lakás ) and copy them in their exercise books. Teacher: ‘Click on the rest of the words and find the meanings of the next ones.’

On the board : ............................... - villamos
  double-decker - .........................
  ................................ - stoptábla
  taxi rank/ stand - .........................
  ............................... - kerékpáros
  couple - .........................

Students click on the objects, repeat the words and write them in their exercise books ( tram/streetcar, emeletes busz, stop sign, taxiállomás, bicyclist). 15 minutes

The teacher asks questions about the picture: ‘Where is the bus? What is the couple doing? What colour is the tram?’ Students answer. Pair work: Students ask and answer questions about the picture. The teacher walks around and helps them. 5 minutes

Reading and writing
Students play the Drag and Drop game. They match the pictures with the English words.They work on their own. The computer counts their scores, so they can compete. In the end they can see who the winner is, the programme shows the first ten. 10 minutes

Students write true or false sentences about the picture using the new words.
E.g.: The bus is behind the double-decker. There are a lot of people near the tram. The newspaper boy is standing. They read them to each other and they decide whether the sentences are true or false. 5 minutes

Students have to write five true or false sentences about the picture or about their own village. They have to learn the new words.

Lesson Three

(In the computer room. Means used during the lesson: PICDIC CD-ROM, a board)

Warm-up / Revision
The teacher asks questions: ‘What are you doing? Where are you sitting? Where do you live? Where does your grandmother live? What can you see in the city?’
Some students read their true or false sentences which they wrote at home. Others answer. If they do not remember the picture they can have a look at it.
Students revise the words with the help of the PICDIC multimedia programme. They work on their own. They can play the Drag and Drop game if they want to. 8 minutes

The teacher asks a city word in Hungarian, a student who knows its English equivalent answers, then he/she asks another Hungarian word and somebody else will answer. They ask each other in this way. 3 minutes

Students open the topic In the city. The teacher writes the English words on the board, students have to find the American equivalents of them.

office block
( office building )
housing estate
( housing project )
( apartment )
a block of flats
( apartment house )
( streetcar, trolley )
( streetcar tracks )
taxi rank
( taxi stand )
( coffee shop )

3 minutes

Students play the Puzzle game. First they scramble the squares of the picture, then they start to give the English or Hungarian meanings of the words asked by the computer. They do not have the same words on the screen at the same time, but they can compete in pairs if they want to. 7 minutes

Students do the Where is it? game. The task is to find the object in the picture after the student heard the word pronounced by the computer. They practise for a while, then they compete: who can finish the game faster. 10 minutes

The computer is off. The teacher writes anagrams of some city words on the board. Students work in pairs. The first pair to write out all the words correctly are the winners. Anagrams on the board:
PERTAMTAN ( apartment ),
DECULEBODREK ( double-decker ),
CLISTYCIB ( bicyclist ),
SPINGTOS ( stop sign ),
CLOBETWORK ( tower block ). 5 minutes

Students collect as many city words in English as they can . They have two minutes to write them in their exercise books. Who has the most correct words is the winner. 4 minutes

Students get a gap-filling exercise about the city. They have to write in the missing words on their own.
This is a big city. There are ...........(1) buses and three ...........(2) in the street. The red bus is a ....................(3). People are waiting in the tram ..............(4). The department store is .................(5) the bank. The .......................(6) is behind the housing estate. A couple is sitting in front of the ...................(7). They are talking. The newspaper boy is standing next to the ......................(8). The ....................(9) is on his bike, he is waiting at the stop line. There is an advertising pillar behind the .......................(10).

Answers: 1. two, 2. trams, 3. double-decker, 4. stop, 5. next to/near, 6. tower block, 7. café, 8. stop sign, 9. bicyclist, 10. taxi rank/stand. 5 minutes Homework Students have to know all the words they learnt during the lessons. They can write some other anagrams. The

Experience and Conclusion
When a teacher plans the lessons he/she wants to do as many exercises with the students as possible. I was in the same situation. I could not carry out all my ideas that I had planned. In the second lesson students spent more time getting to know the words and copying some of them in their exercise books, than I had expected. So at the end of the lesson they did not have time to write true or false sentences. They did this exercise at home as homework. We dealt with the new words for a long time, but the students had to write down only ten words that I considered to be the most important ones. They did not have to write down words like these: condominium, lane arrow for going straight, dashed white line, etc. I think they are not parts of the basic vocabulary and they are too difficult for the students to remember. In spite of that children often recognized these words when they played the games. In the third lesson students did not have time to do the gap-filling exercise, so it was homework again.

I had grave doubts about the language of instructions in the computer room. Which language is better to use? Shall I give the instructions in English or in Hungarian? Finally when I told something to the whole class I used English. E.g.: ‘Open the topic window. Click on the picture, word. Work in pairs.’ etc. But I explained the rules of the games in Hungarian when I saw that most of the students had not understood them in English. When I helped separate students, I also used Hungarian. There are English words on the buttons of the programme, but you can read the instructions and the rules in Hungarian. It is good for the children, because they can understand everything easily.

The students spent more time playing the games not only because they enjoyed them, but also because of the structure of the games. If they did not know a word in the Drag and Drop or in the Puzzle games the programme did not show the correct answer. So they had to go back to the main picture and find the appropriate word. Sometimes it took several minutes to go back to the picture then to the game again. But it was a good practice for them, and in the end they remembered the word. In the Puzzle game children did not like that the programme did not accept the synonyms of the Hungarian words. This is the defectiveness of this multimedia programme. The students had to remember and write the same Hungarian meaning that was given in the main picture.

We had a little problem with the number of the students and the computers. There are 18 students in my group and we only have 15 computers in our lab, so six students had to work in pairs at three computers. These students had to work together all the time. When the others could do something alone, these children had less time to work on their own.

All in all, students enjoyed learning English with this multimedia programme very much. They would like to spend more time playing the games or looking for other interesting topics and words. After all I find that students have learnt a lot of words about the city and their pronunciation has become better. I hope that they will remember these words at the beginning of the next school year too. I am looking forward to meeting and asking them in September, and using PICDIC again with more and more students.

July 1998